Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village.

Arlington-based auto-refinancing startup MotoRefi recently announced $10 million in funding, led by Moderne Ventures.

The funding announcement comes after a year of gains for the four-year-old company, CEO Kevin Bennett tells ARLnow. In 2020, MotoRefi — based at 1010 N. Glebe Road in Ballston — raised $9.4 million, saw the number of users on its platform double and saw its revenue grow six times over. It facilitated over $250 million in auto refinancings and brought on an additional 100 employees.

(Bennett said MotoRefi does not release the number of users.)

The company, which was created by a team of venture-builders from Alexandria-based QED Investors, matches drivers looking to refinance their auto loans with credit unions and community banks. Bennett, who has worked on four other D.C.-area startups, said QED Investors co-founder and managing partner Nigel Morris asked him to lead the fledgling startup.

“Most consumers don’t know they can refinance their cars,” he said, contrasting it with a more commonly-understood home refinancing. “Only 47% know they can refinance their car and 2 to 3% do it.”

And unlike refinancing a home and or some student loans, where online platforms such as Rocket Mortgage and SoFi have made the process easier and more transparent, Bennett said this part of the market has not had its “Rocket Mortgage moment.” MotoRefi changes that, he said.

“People rightly don’t see the process as laid-out fairly,” he said. “One of the things that’s attractive about this startup is that it has a real very specific impact on people’s lives. We see the results of our work every day and that’s incredibly motivating.”

The startup handles the refinancing process from soup to nuts, checking credit scores and matching users only with the rates from banks and credit unions that they qualify for, Bennett said. The average customer saves about $100 a month.

For the smaller credit unions and banks that MotoRefi partners with, Bennett said the startup provides them access to customers they would not otherwise be able to reach. The startup also smoothes out the onboarding of new customers by streamlining the process of gathering documents and matching people with companies based on whether they would be approved, he said.

“We’re more efficient than our competitors because we’re the first real tech company in the space,” he said. “Our approval rates are higher, and it’s much less work for that credit union to review and fund a loan since we’re only sending customers who we know are a match.”

MotoRefi’s revenue comes from a number of different streams, Bennett said. The startup charges customers a processing fee in their loan and lenders pay MotoRefi for access to the people seeking loans, he said. The company also sells car-related services like a gap warranty.

Photo courtesy MotoRefi

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A 26-year-old man from Manassas is in custody in connection to a vehicle tampering incident in the Williamsburg neighborhood.

The arrest was made early Wednesday morning, after a resident reported to police that a man broke into his car and stole cash, and also tried to break into other vehicles.

After the suspect was arrested, police say he struggled with officers and at one point kicked a sheriff’s deputy.

This is the latest such car break-in, amid a two-year increase in vehicle-related property crime.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report, below.

ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2021-01060034, 6000 block of Williamsburg Boulevard. At approximately 2:43 a.m. on January 6, police were dispatched to the report of vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed the suspect allegedly inside his vehicle and previously observed him pulling on the door handles to approximately four other vehicles in an attempt to gain entry unsuccessfully. The victim reported that an undisclosed amount of cash had been stolen from the vehicle. A lookout was broadcast and an officer canvasing the area located an individual matching the suspect description and attempted to detain him, however he actively resisted and a brief struggle ensued. With the assistance of additional arriving officers, the suspect was taken into custody. While in booking, the suspect continued to act disorderly and kicked a deputy in the leg. Robert Kimmer, 26, of Manassas, Va. was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery on Law Enforcement, Vehicle Tampering, Obstruction of Justice, Possession of a Schedule I Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

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Morning Notes

Market Common to Ditch Driveway? — “The loop road through the heart of Regency Centers Corp.’s Market Common Clarendon project could soon look a lot more like a plaza. The developer is pitching a series of changes to the central hub of the development… to try and make the area a bit more pleasing for pedestrians. That includes closing off to vehicular traffic the end of the U-shaped road connecting many of the development’s shops to Clarendon Boulevard.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beyer Statement on Trump Tape — “This recording makes Nixon’s ‘smoking gun’ tape sound tame, but that tape captured only one part of a larger criminal conspiracy. Donald Trump must be held accountable for his illegal acts and his attacks on the Constitution. Nothing less than a criminal investigation will serve.” [Press Release]

Affordable Housing Nonprofit Buys Crystal House — “The Washington Housing Conservancy has acquired the Crystal House apartments in Arlington County in a bid to help combat rising rental rates as Amazon.com Inc. continues to expand its second headquarters nearby. The District-based nonprofit on Dec. 31 notified residents of the complex at 1900 S. Eads St. of the acquisition.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fmr. ACDC Chair Is Top Ga. Runoff Dialer — “And the top caller into Georgia for the ‘blue team’ in the 1/5/21 U.S. Senate runoff elections is… yep, Virginia’s own Kip Malinosky (former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair), with a whopping 2,801 calls and still dialing!” [Blue Virginia]

Local Basketball Ref Shortage — “Players, coaches and school administrators aren’t alone in making adjustments to hold a high-school basketball season in Fairfax and Arlington counties, which began Dec. 21 with many restrictions and protocols to follow because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [InsideNova]

Crystal City Hotel Restaurant Reopening — “Really Yummy Good News! Our [Crystal City Marriott] bar and restaurant, Bell20, is Reopening TOMORROW! What a great way to start 2021!” [Twitter]

Pentagon City-Based FLIR Acquired — “Teledyne Technologies Incorporated and FLIR Systems, Inc. jointly announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Teledyne will acquire FLIR in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $8.0 billion.” [FLIR via Potomac Tech Wire]

Rosslyn-Based Politico Buys Energy Publication — “POLITICO, the world’s leading global news operation and information service specializing in politics and policy, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire E&E News, the renowned news organization focused solely on energy and the environment, now in its 22nd year.” [Politico]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway is backing off plans to reconfigure its drive-thru, at least for now.

The fast food restaurant withdrew a use permit application at the Arlington County Board over the weekend. That followed a drubbing at the Board’s April meeting, during which county officials blasted the plans, which included a second drive-thru lane and a new recirculating lane that would run between the restaurant and Lee Highway.

After deferring the restaurant’s application to this summer, then deferring it again, the Board accepted a request by McDonald’s to withdraw it entirely.

From a county staff report:

The applicant has requested withdrawal of the use permit request due to the physical constraints in accommodating on-site vehicle circulation, as well as the growing trend toward mobile orders and curbside pick-up. This application was initially heard at the April 2020 County Board meeting and was deferred twice to allow the applicant time to evaluate how it might address concerns regarding pedestrian safety and site circulation with the proposed design of the drive-thru; most recently from the July 2020 County Board meeting to the September 2020 County Board meeting. Therefore, staff recommends the County Board accept the applicant’s request to withdraw the subject use permit application.

In addition to the second ordering lane, intended to reduce incidence of drive-thru traffic backing up to Lee Highway, the plans called for the 1960s era building to be rebuilt as a modernized, two-story restaurant with around the same floor area but a smaller overall footprint.

The new restaurant would have included a kids play area, as the current one has, and was designed to be more efficient for preparing drive-thru and online orders. Other amenities would have included new landscaping and McDonald’s restoring a mural at the nearby Langston-Brown Community Center.

County staff and the John M. Langston Citizens Association opposed the plans, citing concerns about pedestrian safety for those needing to cross the new recirculation lane to access the restaurant, as well as potential backups caused by the lane being blocked by those waiting for the drive-thru.

Despite agreeing to some changes, McDonald’s and its land use attorney continued to argue for the merits of its plan during the April meeting. ARLnow has asked about whether a new plan is in the works, but has yet to hear back.

Photo (1) via Google Maps

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Once can hardly go a block in some parts of Arlington without spotting a Tesla, but the vast majority of vehicles on local streets are still powered by fossil fuels.

The proportion of electric vehicles on the road is expected to increase, albeit gradually. The Edison Electric Institute expects 3.5 million electric vehicles to be sold annually in the U.S. in 2030; that compares to the total of 17 million vehicles sold last year.

The switch to electric will have a number of advantages: less noise along busy roads, lower operating and maintenance costs, and a cleaner environment.

From a WTOP article yesterday:

Switching to electric vehicles would save lives, time and money, and the D.C. area would be one of the prime beneficiaries, a new study finds.

The American Lung Association’s Road to Clean Air report placed D.C. among the top 10 metropolitan areas that would benefit from a switchover to electric cars, buses and trucks by the middle of the century.

Compared with a “business as usual” scenario, the D.C. area would see about 175 fewer premature deaths a year by 2050; nearly 3,000 fewer asthma attacks; about 12,000 fewer lost workdays per year and more than $2 million in public health benefits, the association said in a statement.

Today we’re wondering: how many Arlingtonians are planning to buy an electric vehicle over the next 10 years?

Photo via Twitter

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Four juvenile suspects were taken into police custody after a wild series of events in Crystal City Monday afternoon.

Police say a car left idling and unattended was stolen on the 2600 block of Crystal Drive, by a suspect who hopped out of a car occupied by four other suspects. Later, police located both vehicles near Route 1 and S. Eads Street and conducted a traffic stop.

One suspect was arrested at the scene, while three others were arrested following foot pursuits through parts of Crystal City and Pentagon City. A fifth suspect remains at large.

The crime is the latest in a string of carjackings, car break-ins, and thefts of vehicles left idling or unlocked — often delivery vehicles.

More from an Arlington County Police Departmentment crime report:

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2020-08100143, 2600 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 4:24 p.m. on August 10, police were dispatched to the report of a stolen vehicle just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim left his Nissan Maxima idling unattended, during which time Suspect One allegedly exited a Chevrolet Cruze, occupied by four other suspects, and stole the victim’s Maxima. Officers canvassing the area located the Cruze and Maxima in the area of Richmond Highway and S. Eads Street and effected a traffic stop. Suspect One exited the Maxima, which then struck another vehicle, and fled the scene on foot. The other four suspects exited the Cruze and attempted to flee on foot. Suspect Two was stopped as they exited the Cruze. Suspect One and two other suspects were apprehended in the area following brief foot pursuits. The fifth suspect remains outstanding. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the Cruze was reported stolen out of Washington D.C. earlier in the day. Petitions for Grand Larceny Auto, Hit and Run, and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony were sought for juvenile Suspect One. Petitions for Grand Larceny Auto and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony were obtained for the other three juvenile suspects. The investigation is ongoing.

File photo

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Arlington is experiencing a rash of car-related crimes, with three separate theft sprees listed in today’s local crime report.

A man was arrested early Friday morning after security at the Pentagon City mall allegedly saw him break into three unlocked vehicles and try to break into two others. The suspect, who was not named, is expected to be charged with larceny from auto.

Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, another series of auto crimes was reported, this time along Glebe Road just south of Lee Highway. Someone smashed the windows of eight vehicles and stole airbags from seven of them, according to Arlington County police.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, police say they were dispatched to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood for a report of multiple vehicles being stolen. They found three cars had been stolen overnight, including a BMW, a Nissan and a Honda.

Arlington County police warned residents last week to lock their car doors and not leave keys in the car, in response to at least 31 cars being stolen in July. The county has also seen multiple carjackings over the past couple of months. Auto crimes are rising in Arlington, according to the latest ACPD annual report.

More on the most recent thefts, from today’s crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07310016, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:25 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto in progress. Arriving officers located an individual matching the description provided by security and detained him without incident. The investigation determined that mall security observed the suspect enter approximately three unlocked vehicles and attempt to enter two other locked vehicles unsuccessfully. Charges are pending for the suspect.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series),  2020-07310042, 2100 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:09 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 30 and 6:45 a.m. on July 31, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to eight vehicles and stole the airbags from seven of those vehicles. The targeted vehicles were all Honda models. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

GRAND LARCENY AUTO (series), 2020-07310058/07310087, 600 block of 29th Road S./2300 block of S. Inge Street. At approximately 10:06 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicles stolen. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 3 vehicles were stolen from the area overnight. The vehicles are described as: VA VKN8674, 2016 Honda Accord, Brown; VA ULY5206, 2016 BMW 428i, Gray; and VA UJT9855, 2020 Nissan Armada, Beige. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) A man was carjacked by a group of suspects in the Green Valley neighborhood over the weekend

The incident happened early Saturday morning on the 2200 block of S. Shirlington Road. The victim was thrown to the ground as 3-4 men stole his personal belongings and car, police said.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

CARJACKING, 2020-07250042, 2200 block of Shirlington Road. At approximately 2:06 a.m. on July 25, police were dispatched to the report of a grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim exited his vehicle and was approached by 3-4 male suspects who exited a vehicle and approached him. The suspects threatened him, threw him to the ground and stole his personal belongings, then stole his vehicle. The vehicle is described as a 2018 Silver Kia Forte with Maryland license plate 350920T. The suspects are described as Black males, one wearing a white shirt, one with dreadlocks, and one wearing gold sneakers. The investigation is ongoing.

This is at least the fifth reported carjacking in Arlington since June 22.

Today’s crime report also details a pair of other recent, car-related crimes in Arlington.

A D.C. man was arrested following a foot chase, after police allegedly saw him trying to open car doors on the 2000 block of N. Culpeper Street, in the High View Park neighborhood. And police are looking for the suspects who stole two cars and items from other vehicles on the 6000 block of 28th Street N., in the Williamsburg neighborhood.

From ACPD:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (significant), 2020-07260033, 2000 block of N. Culpeper Street. At approximately 2:31 a.m. on July 26, police were dispatched to the report of a subject pulling on door handles. Arriving officers observed the male suspect inside of a vehicle and made contact with him. As they attempted to detain him in handcuffs, the suspect fled on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, he was taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the suspect allegedly entered the unlocked vehicle and stole items of value. Isaiah Wynn, 27, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Entering or Setting in Motion Vehicle, Obstruction of Justice and Petit Larceny and held on a secure bond.

GRAND LARCENY/LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07240065, 6000 block of 28th Street N. At approximately 8:28 a.m. on July 24, police were dispatched to the late report of a grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 8:30 p.m. on July 23 and 8:15 a.m. on July 24, unknown suspects stole the victim’s vehicle. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that an additional vehicle in the same block was stolen and multiple unlocked vehicles were entered, contents tampered with and items of value stolen. The investigation is ongoing.

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Morning Notes

GOP Senate Primary Today — “Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Virginia primary are hoping to win a chance to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in November’s general election. Alissa Baldwin, Daniel Gade and Thomas Speciale will be on the Republican primary ballot.” [The Center Square]

Pike Housing Proposal Delayed Amid Outcry — “Faced with criticism on multiple fronts, Arlington County Board members on June 16 essentially threw a staff proposal under the bus, delaying for three months consideration of a controversial plan on how to prioritize affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor… It would have increased the maximum threshold, from the current 60 percent of area median income to up to as much as 100 percent, for individuals to qualify for assistance in buying properties.” [InsideNova]

River Rescues Near Chain Bridge Saturday — “D.C. firefighters and police officers on Saturday rescued eight adults and four children who became trapped on rocks in the Potomac River and were cut off from shore by rapidly rising waters in a sudden rainstorm.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Arlington Home Show Cancelled — The pandemic has led to the cancellation of the annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo, which had earlier been rescheduled for Saturday, June 27. [Arlington County]

ACPD Investigating Brandishing Incident — “On June 21, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving in the area of 31st Street S. and S. Abingdon Street when he was allegedly cut off by the suspect. The suspect then waved the victim in front of him and began following him. When the victim parked, the suspect pulled alongside his vehicle and a verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect brandished a firearm.” [Arlington County]

Traffic Getting Back to Normal — “Car and truck volume trends in Virginia are moving back toward normal after plummeting during the COVID-19 shutdown, according to numbers released Friday by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Pandemic traffic on state-maintained interstates and primary roads hit a low on April 12, a Sunday… The numbers have gradually rebounded since, climbing back to around 20 percent below normal by the end of May.” [Virginia Mercury]

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Want to go out and watch a movie, while staying safe and keeping close to home? An event this weekend in Ballston may be for you.

The Ballston Business Improvement District is hosting a “retro drive-in movie night” on Saturday, in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym, &pizza and Spokes Etc. The timeless 80s film The Princess Bride will be shown starting at dusk.

The cost of admission is not quite as retro as the format: it’s $40 per car, though it’s free for members of the BallstonConnect Club. (The club is free for residents of certain apartment buildings and employees of some office buildings, $120/year for others.)

More from the event webpage:

Tired of staying in? Join the BallstonConnect Club for a retro drive-in movie night! That’s right, the drive-in is back, and coming to a neighborhood near you. Grab your date and cruise down to Ballston to watch an exclusive screening of The Princess Bride on Saturday, June 13th.

What date would be complete without dinner? Don’t forget to place your order from &pizza before the screening begins. The event kicks off at 8:15 PM, and the screening begins at dusk.

Space for this event is limited, so get your tickets soon!

Photo via Google Maps

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